Should We be Picky?

Text: Psalms 50:7-23


I.         Jesus’ condemnation of the Jews, especially the Pharisees and the Sadducees, is well-known

            A.        Many Christians are rightly concerned that they not fall into the same trap that snared the Pharisees.

                        1.         Often when it is pointed out that we should do things one way and not another, the response is “That is being legalistic, like the Pharisees”

                        2.         The Pharisees, we are told, failed by being too picky about the law.

                        3.         They emphasize the small unimportant things and ignored the importance things like love, justice, and mercy.

            B.        Is this what the Pharisees were guilty of ?

II.        The Pharisees

            A.        “Interpreted” God’s commands, adding rules and regulations that did not exist

                        1.         Matthew 15:1-11

                                    a.         Using the law to avoid responsibility

                                    b.         Modifying the law and using it as a weapon against others

            B.        Emphasized the physical over the spiritual

                        1.         Matthew 23:23-24 - Careful about tithing to the smallest part, but they miss greater meaning of the law - justice, mercy, and love

                        2.         Matthew 23:25-31 - Look good on the outside, but corrupt on the inside.

            C.        Misapplied God’s laws

                        1.         Matthew 12:1-8

                                    a.         Stated that the disciples could not pluck grain from the fields they were passing.

                                    b.         Not that they were farming or even gathering enough for a whole meal. Allowed by the law - Deuteronomy 23:25

                                    c.         The question was what was the purpose of the Law?

                                                (1)       Do you follow it so blindly that someone goes hungry?

                                                (2)       In other words do you put aside the law of love your neighbor – pitting one law against another.

                                                (3)       As Jesus points out, God never intended this interpretation.

                                                (4)       David ate the showbread when starving. God showed David mercy, though Jesus points out that David broke the law.

                                    d.         But the real point is that the Pharisees condemned those who had not broken the law, while claiming to understand the mercy shown to David who had broke the law.

                                    e.         There were number of examples that show that “no work” did not mean a total abstinence:

                                                (1)       The Sabbath is not violated, even though the Priests perform their duties

                                    f.         They should have known that the Messiah (and they had proof that Jesus was the Messiah) would not violate the Law

III.       God does expect pickiness

            A.        Notice that Jesus never said they should not keep the Law

                        1.         Matthew 23:3 - Do the law as taught, but don’t follow their example

                        2.         Matthew 23:23 - These you ought to have done without neglecting the other

            B.        Moses and the rock - Numbers 20:1-13

                        1.         Moses was expected to follow God’s word precisely; without any alterations.

                        2.         Even though God said to strike the rock earlier, Moses was not to do it this time.

            C.        Saul and the Amalekites - I Samuel 15:13-26

                        1.         Saul was expected to follow God’s word precisely; without any alterations

                        2.         Even minor changes were not allowed.

            D.        Even in reading His word

                        1.         Seed versus Seeds in Galatians 3:16

IV.      But keeping His word isn’t an excuse to do unrighteousness

            A.        Matthew 23:23 - Some parts of God’s will are more important - Mercy, justice, and love are weightier matters.

                        1.         Matthew 12:7 - Learn what it means “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”

                                    a.         Some of God’s law are for men. God doesn’t need the sacrifices, men do - Psalms 50:7-23

                                    b.         God wants righteousness from men

                                    c.         God’s laws were never meant to be an excuse to avoid doing the important things

                                    d.         Which is more important, keeping a Sabbath rule or letting someone go hungry?

                        2.         Proverbs 21:3 - Justice and righteousness is more acceptable to God than sacrifices

                        3.         Hosea 6:6 - God desires mercy and knowledge of God

            B.        Jeremiah 7:21-23 - God’s first priority is obedience, not sacrifices

                        1.         This is Saul’s problem.

                                    a.         He altered God’s word to fulfill a technicality of the law. But it was not something God wanted.

                        2.         Similarly, we cannot alter God’s will to suit our desires.

                        3.         But they can be altered to suit God’s desires, we can’t hide behind the rules.

                                    a.         Too often people “lock up” when faced with a conflict.

                                    b.         Someone needs help, but they don’t want to violate how God tells us to help, so no one gets help.

                                    c.         What happened to mercy? This is like the Pharisees of Matthew 15.

            C.        Precise keeping of God’s law will not save us in and of itself - Micah 6:6-8

            D.        Putting God first is most important - Mark 12:33-34